Local teen celebrates sweet sixteen with unique party, initiates new youth event

SARANAC Fifteen-year-old Christine Allen began thinking about her 16th birthday last summer and how she wanted to celebrate it. I didnt want an ordinary sweet 16 birthday party with a D.J., she explained. I wanted a party that meant something to me and showed what I stand for. Last July, Christine attended a youth conference at a church in Utica. It was such a wonderful experience she decided she wanted to have a similar event here. She thought her 16th birthday party in January would be the perfect time. I wanted something different, with a God-centered theme, she said. A lot of my friends have never experienced church in a way that was fun and I wanted them to see that there is a God. I care for all my friends and I want to see them in Heaven. I thought the party would also be a way of thanking God for the 16 years he has blessed me with. When Christine mentioned her idea to her mother and stepfather, Suzie and Rob Greene, they gave their full consent. Eventually, Suzie suggested she open the party up to all the area youth groups as well, and hold the event at Cadyville Wesleyan Church, where they are members. With the approval church pastor Jeff Turcotte, a date was set and all the little details began to fall into place. The big event, which took place Jan. 19, had about 150 people in attendance, most of who were teenagers. Those who grabbed dinner before the party wished they hadnt when they saw the long tables full of sandwiches, finger foods and deserts. There was enough food for more than 200 people. Suzie made all the goodies, while Rob took care of the sandwiches with some help from church members. After eating, the teens played a variety of large group games led by Christines older stepbrother, Chris Greene, a youth leader from South Carolina. A balloon war in the fellowship room was followed by slightly calmer games in the sanctuary where teens broke up into teams of 10 and competed against each other. Worship time was also held, which was a new experience for many in attendance as it was led by Cross Current, a Christian rock band from Massena composed mostly of teens from the Cross Current Youth Group. Following worship, Christines stepfather gave a Powerpoint presentation which featured a series of his favorite hilarious video clips and personal anecdotes. The presentation masterfully transitioned to the gospel message. Christines party was complete with the traditional singing of Happy Birthday and serving of cake, ice cream and soda. It was the one part of the party that was much like any other 16th birthday party. But, the story of Christines party does not end with cake and ice cream her party was part of a much larger scheme. The party sparked a new bi-monthly youth event at Cadyville Wesleyan Church called Saturday Night Alive. The first event was held Feb. 2 and the next will be Saturday, Feb. 16. While Christines mother was thinking it would be great to have all the area youth groups come together for the party, the Rev. Timothy C. Koffkey, youth pastor at the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Plattsburgh, was contemplating about organizing area youth leaders to bring youths of faith together on a regular basis. I began thinking about forming this group in the fall of this year, the Rev. Koffkey commented. The youth group members from North Country Alliance Church were asking me to do more activities with other area youth groups, while at the same time I was challenged by some articles that I had read in the Network Magazine. The Rev. Koffkey got the ball rolling by sending e-mails out to the area youth pastors. He received positive responses from five churches and the Clinton County Youth Network was formed. We desire to get our youth together for fellowship, encouragement, worship, outreach and fun, the Rev. Koffkey explained. By getting our youth together they will be encouraged to meet other Christian teens and realize that there are more Christian youth in this area than simply those who attend their church. Working together we can accomplish much more for the kingdom of God. The networks first event was a youth service last fall with the Rev. Don Piper, author of the New York Times best-selling book, 90 Minutes in Heaven. That was followed up by a leaders breakfast meeting at Perkins restaurant. Christines birthday party dovetailed perfectly with the mission of the Youth Network. A second area youth leaders breakfast is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 9, at Perkins Restaurant in Plattsburgh, starting at 8 a.m. All area church youth group leaders are welcome. Those interested in attending the breakfast or learning more about the network may e-mail the Rev. Koffkey at pastort@primelink1.net .

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